Back in November, the New York Times featured an interactive webpage entitled Budget Puzzle: You fix the Deficit.
After watching the incompetence of the Republican leadership and Republican members of the House of Representatives, try to reduce the US budget by $100 billion in 2011, and do so in the most ridiculous and immature manner, I thought I could do a better job.
So went back to the site, actually made some tough decisions. Here they are:
Cut 250,000 government contractors
In the past decade, both the number of federal employees and the number of contractors rose. Recent estimates suggest that contractors outnumber federal employees by millions. The chairmen wrote, “While contractors provide useful services — sometimes at a lower cost than the federal government — their numbers are simply too high in light of the current budget deficit.” 2015 Savings 17 Billion 2030 Savings 17 billion
Reduce nuclear arsenal and space spending
Would reduce number of nuclear warheads to 1,050, from 1,968. Would also reduce the number of Minuteman missiles and funding for nuclear research and development, missile development and space-based missile defense. 2015 savings 19 Billion 2030 Savings 38 Billion
Reduce military to pre-Iraq War size and further reduce troops in Asia and Europe
“This option,” according to the bipartisan Sustainable Defense Task Force, “would cap routine U.S. military presence in Europe and Asia at 100,000 personnel, which is 26 percent below the current level and 33 percent below the level planned for the future. All told, 50,000 personnel would be withdrawn.” The option would also reduce the standing size of the military as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down. 2015 Savings 25 billion 2030 Savings 49 Billion.
Reduce Navy and Air Force fleets
Under this option, the Navy would build 48 fewer ships and retire 37 more ships than now scheduled. Overall, the battle fleet would shrink to 230 ships, from 286. In addition, the Air Force would retire two tactical fighter wings and reduce the number of fighter jets it planned to purchase
2015 Savings 19 Billion 2030 Savings 24 Billion
Cancel or delay some weapons programs
This option would cancel the purchase of some expensive equipment, like the F35 fighter jet and MV-22 Osprey, with less expensive equipment that the bipartisan Sustainable Defense Task Force judged to have similar capability. It would delay other purchases. Research and development spending, which the task force considered a relic of the cold war arms race, would be reduced. 2015 savings 19 Billion 2030 Savings 18 billion
Reduce noncombat military compensation and overhead
Would change health-care plan for veterans who had not been wounded in battle. Premiums, which have not risen in a decade, would rise. More veterans would receive health insurance from employer. This option would also take some benefits, like housing allowances, into account when tying military raises to civilian pay raises. Currently, increases in those benefits come on top of pay raises. The military would also reduce the length and frequency of combat tours. No unit or person will be sent to a combat zone for longer than a year, and they will not be sent back involuntarily without spending at least two years at home. 2015 savings 23 Billion 2030 Savings 51 Billion
Reduce the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to 60,000 by 2015
Reduce the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to 60,000 by 2015 Today, the United States military has 100,000 troops in Afghanistan and 50,000 in Iraq. The Obama Administration plans to reduce these numbers in coming years but has not specified troop levels. Defense and budget experts say this 60,000 option would be faster than what is now planned. The savings is the difference between the administration's projected spending and the spending under this option. 2015 Savings 51 Billion 2030 Savings 149 Billion.
Reduce the tax break for employer-provided health insurance
This option would reduce the tax break for employer-provided health insurance, by slowly adjusting the cap, so that it increases at the rate of economic growth, rather than the growth in health costs – which tends to be significantly faster. Over time, more employer spending on health insurance would be taxed. 2015 Savings 41 billion 2030 Savings 157 Billion
Cap Medicare growth starting in 2013
This option would cap the Medicare growth at G.D.P. growth plus 1 percentage point, starting in 2013. Among other things, this would crack down on many hospitals and doctors with the highest costs. 2015 Savings 29 Billion 2030 Savings 562 Billion.
Return the estate tax to Clinton-era levels
Under President Bill Clinton, the estate tax exempted $1 million from any taxable estate. This level would not grow with inflation over time, subjecting more estates to the tax. The rate would start at 18 percent and climb to 55 percent, as it did in the 1990s. The 55 percent rate would begin at $3 million. If Congress takes no action, this would become law on Jan. 1, 2011. 2015 Savings 50 Billion 2030 Savings 104 Billion
Return rates to Clinton-era levels
This option would return rates to their level under President Bill Clinton: 10 percent on capital gains for low-income households and 20 percent for everyone else, while dividends would again be taxed at the same rate as ordinary income. 2015 Savings 32 Billion 2030 savings 46 Billion.
Repeal tax rates for income above $250,000 a year
This option would repeal retroactively to Jan. 1, of the Bush tax cuts for the top 2 percent or so of households on the income distribution – those making $250,000 or more. On average, the change would equal about 2 percent of a given household’s pretax income. 2015 savings 54 Billion 2030 savings 115 billion.
Repeal tax rates for income below $250,000 a year
This option would repeal retroactively to Jan. 1, of the Bush tax cuts for the bottom 98 percent or so of households on the income distribution – those making $250,000 or less. On average, the change would equal about 2 percent of a given household’s pretax income. 2015 savings 172 Billion 2030 savings 252 Billion
Payroll tax: Subject some incomes above $106,000 to tax
When the payroll tax – which finances Social Security and Medicare – was created, it covered 90 percent of all income. Today, with a ceiling at $106,800, it covers closer to 80 percent. This option would gradually raise the ceiling, until 90 percent of income was again subject to the tax. 2015 Savings 50 Billion 2030 Savings 100 Billion
So the projected 2015 shorfall was 418 billion, these budget changes would bring in 655 billion, resulting in a surplus of 237 billion. In 2030, the projected shortfall was 1.345 billion, and the revenue brought in with the 1.761 billion, resulting in a surplus of 416 billion.
While not everyone would be in agreement with what I propose, it does turn things around financially, spreading the sacrifice equally among our citizens. This is how adults do things.